* A timeline and brief analysis of the recent killings in Negros prepared by Defend Negros #StopTheAttacks Network
NEGROS Island – The timeline of events detailing the spate of killings in Negros Oriental from July 22 to 28, 2019, points to state-sponsored policies and statements from President Rodrigo Duterte that encourage impunity and violence.
The killings of at least 16 civilians in Negros Oriental towns were carried out in apparent retaliation to the July 18, 2019 ambush of PNP intelligence operatives to which the New People’s Army has claimed responsibility.
However, President Duterte’s vitriol-filled statements, reward offers, and hateful comments against human rights defenders had only worsened the situation in Negros.
Based on initial reports, the victims who were all civilians and noncombatants were killed by gunshot wounds — either from Tokhang-style killings that happened in the early morning while they were sleeping inside their homes, or ambushed in broad daylight by motorcycle-riding, masked assassins believed to be death squad members.
The perpetrators of these attacks were emboldened by state policies such as the Memorandum Order No. 32 and Executive Order No. 70 and counterinsurgency operations that persistently vilify and target civilians accused of links with the NPA.
While the President has ruled out the declaration of Martial Law in Negros, following strong opposition from various concerned sectors, we cannot be assured that the killings would stop nor justice be achieved.
Negros is regarded as the hacienda capital of the Philippines because of the prevailing land monopoly and semi-feudal socio-economic conditions that continue to exploit farmers, sacadas and the rural population in the region.
Not only did President Duterte neglected demands for genuine land reform and free land distribution, he allowed landlords, sugar barons, warlords and hacienderos to prevail in Negros. He even undermined the collective effort of farmers to cultivate the lands and assert for genuine agrarian reform, calling this “anarchy”.
Instead of imposing more repressive measures, the government must undertake serious and significant efforts to address the root causes of the armed conflict — poverty and social injustice in Negros.
We add our voice to the popular clamor to stop the cycle of violence in Negros.
Stop the killings! Justice and peace in Negros!
- July 18
- Four (4) policemen were killed in an ambush in Mabato, Ayungon, Negros Oriental. They were Corporal Relebert Beronio, Patrolman Raffy Callao, Patrolman Ruel Cabellon and Patrolman Marquino de Leon.
- July 20
- Duterte visited the wake of the 4 and offered P1-million reward money for the arrest of the suspects
- July 21
- Peasant Epefanio Romano was arrested in Sitio Sook, Mabato, Ayungon, Negros Oriental in an apparent relation for the ambush of four policemen in Ayungon.
- July 23
- In Guihulngan, Atty. Anthony Trinidad was shot to death while his wife Novie Marie was wounded by unidentified gunmen.
- July 24
- Peasant Felimino Janayan, and Weny Alegre, were killed in Poblacion, Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental by still unknown assailants.
- Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos issued a pastoral statement to call for peace, an end to the killings in Negros, and the resumption of peace talks.
- July 25
- At around 1 am, Arthur Bayawa, school principal, and Aldane Bayawa, a DepEd official, were killed in Barangay Hibaiyo, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
- At around 1:40 am, Barangay Chairman Romeo Alipan was killed in Barangay Buenavista, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
- At 8 am, year-old baby Marjon Ocampo and his father, peasant Marlon Ocampo, were killed in Sitio Tara in Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.
- Rakilin Astorias, a peasant was shot to death in Maloh, Siaton, Negros Oriental.
- Peasant Reden Eleuterio was killed in Mabato, Ayungon, Negros Oriental.
- National Democratic Front (NDF) denied that the New People’s Army (NPA) tortured the 4 police personnel who were killed in an ambush in Negros Oriental.
- July 26
- At around 7: 20 pm, Federico Sabejon, a peasant, was shot to death in Barangay 3, Siaton, Negros Oriental.
- Onie Bangala and Nerie Joy Bangala, the alleged suspects in the ambush of 4 policemen were arrested in Carol-an, Ayungon, Negros Oriental.
- July 27
- At around 2:30 am, former Ayungon mayor Edcel Enardecido, and Leo Enardecido were killed in Barangay Tampocon 1.
- In a separate shooting incident, at about 12:00 MN, Councilor Bobby Jalandoni and Barangay Chairman Ernesto Posadas were killed in Panubigan, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental.
- Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos issued the Oratio Imperata to end the killings in Negros, while all four Catholic bishops in the region denounced the murders.
- Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo condemned the killings and said that local authorities are looking into the situation.
- July 28
- Peasant and barangay tanod Ananciacino Rosalita was shot to death in Panubigan, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental.
- At 8:00 PM, churches and religious houses in Negros started the tolling of bells.
- July 29
- Peasants Rico Oracoy and Lito Cadusale were arrested in Bindoy, Negros Oriental.
- Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde ordered the deployment of 300 Special Action Force (SAF) troops to Negros island.
- July 31
- Duterte raised the reward money for the arrest of the suspects in the killing of the policemen to P5 million, dead or alive. He warned that the NPA will be repaid with the same “atrocity” that they have allegedly committed.
- AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said that they are studying the possibility of recommending the imposition of martial law in Negros Oriental.
- PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde ordered the relief of Negros Oriental Provincial Police Director Colonel Raul Tacaca.
- Philippine Army 302nd Brigade Commander Ignacio Madriaga announced the formation of the Negros Oriental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
- August 1
- Malacañang said Duterte might declare martial law or invoke emergency powers in Negros Oriental.
- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he so far has made no recommendation to impose martial law in the province.
- The Commission on Human Rights said the spate of killings in Negros Oriental should not lead to the declaration of martial law.
- Negros Oriental Reps. Jocelyn Limkaichong and Manuel Sagarbarria led the filing of a House Resolution calling for an investigation into the series of killings in Negros. It was supported by 26 other legislators in the Lower House.
- August 2
- Mayors of Guihulngan, Ayungon, and Canlaon said they would support the declaration of martial law while the Philippine Army’s Third Infantry (Spearhead) Division, which oversees military operations in Negros Island, expressed support for the possible declaration.
- August 5
- Bishop Alminaza calls for the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and NDFP.
- Gen. Albayalde claims the situation in Negros is under control and that they have not recommended the imposition of Martial Law.